The Midwest Express comeback story cleared another hurdle last week as the carrier announced it has secured aircraft to (re)launch flights. The company will contract with Elite Airways to operate the aircraft, allowing it to commence operation far more quickly than acquiring its own operating certificate.
This agreement with Elite Airways is a key step to bringing much-needed nonstop service back to Milwaukee. We identified Elite Airways as a well-suited partner due to its extensive operating experience, high-quality customer service approach, and exemplary safety record. By partnering with Elite, we expedite bringing our service to the market while we pursue federal licenses required to operate independently.– Greg Aretakis, president of Midwest Express
Specifics on which routes the carrier will fly or exactly when service will start remain unclear. Also unspecified is whether Elite Airways will use a CRJ200 or CRJ700 aircraft for the service. All of these details are expected to be shared “within the coming weeks” according to the company. One report notes that the hometown airport in Milwaukee has not yet received a request for gate or counter space from the airline.
While the planes’ operation, staffing and maintenance will be handled by Elite Airways the other portions of the operation, including ticket sales and ground services, will be managed directly by Midwest Express.
The decision to contract flight services to a certified third party shifts the timeline significantly in favor of the airline operations. For this pairing it also will help in developing the necessary operational wherewithal to allow Midwest to eventually secure its own licenses. The agreement provides for Elite to “will work in tandem with Midwest to complete regulatory and operational requirements for Midwest to obtain its own airline operating certificate and aircraft.”
Elite Airways runs a mix of scheduled charter operations, with flights focused on the east coast and operating under its own brand name. The carrier also has experience running flights under third party branding similar to the Midwest deal. In 2014 it operated as Branson Air Express, based in Branson, Missouri. In 2017 it operated flights between Carlsbad/Palomar, California and Las Vegas under the Cal Jet Elite brand.
It is also worth noting that another startup carrier, David Neeleman’s Moxy operation, is choosing the longer, direct certification option to get into the sky. Neeleman has plenty of experience with the process and is confident it is the correct choice for his approach to the market. Among other things, the aircraft he wants to use for so many good reasons is not available on the second-hand market.
And, yes, the CRJ200 can have an oven fitted to bake the fresh chocolate chip cookies on board, should that be the type chosen.